Quickie with Susan Taggart: A Leap of Faith
Not too long ago, I received an e-mail from Susan Taggart, who, until recently, had written for television, for the stage, and for children. She is currently writing romance, for a publisher new to many readers, Bethany House, which publishes inspirational romances.
Susan is passionate about the books published by Bethany House, saying, "These are not 'religious' romance novels. They are perhaps more rightly termed 'inspirational' novels - filled with real life and intriguing characters. They're not at all 'preachy', however they don't contain 'steamy, sizzling' love scenes - but they are wonderfully romantic and engrossing, solid storytelling."
I've not read any books put out by Bethany, but would love to hear from those of you who have. Considering the fact that Harlequin has entered (or re-entered?) this market, I'd love for you to please e-mail me to share your reading experiences of any of the inspirational publishers, or just to talk about the idea of inspirational romances.
I asked Susan to discuss her reasons for making such a change in her writing and discovered that for her, it was a combination of a common sense approach mixed together with a rather large leap of faith.
The odyssey that took me from East Texas to Hollywood and now to bookshelves throughout the country has been quite a breathtaking adventure. I always knew I was a writer and I never, for one moment, thought it wouldn't happen. Even when I was a young, divorced mom with three small children, I refused to give up my dream. I took risks that could only be attributed to complete and utter ignorance. And, more times than not, they paid off. I always tell others to follow their heart - it has a wonderful sense of direction.
Every woman loves romance. But my television screenwriting career was providing a lot of satisfaction. I enjoyed being on the staff of NBC's Another World, then moved on to become a Story Editor for Romance Theater and wrote for Knot's Landing and many other shows. All of these were excellent training ground for a novelist.
I made the decision to make the move to romance novels in the past year or so. You see, when you have a passion to write and the market you are in is changing rapidly, you seek out new areas in which to use your talent. That's what I did. The changes in the types and content of programming currently being done for TV caused me to take a look at whether I wanted to continue there or not. It was clear that morally, I did not. Whether they wish to admit it or not, there also is a pronounced age prejudice in Hollywood. They look at most writers over the age of 35 as unemployable, unless of course you are a William Goldman. I feel very fortunate that I am able to move from genre to genre. I have to admit that it has been easier to make these moves because of my years of writing experience - I don't regret a minute of it.
The fact that I had a list of television credits and a published series of children's books (The Angel Academy) under pseudonym Misty Taggart, helped in getting my submission read quickly. I was fortunate that Bethany House responded almost immediately. I sent them my proposal in May of this year and was given the go ahead in late June. I knew I had a very intriguing story that was solid and characters who were well-rounded and interesting. I know this seems very fast, but when you factor in the twenty years I spent writing in other genres - it's not fast at all.
What's rather ironic about this entire story is that my first play was a romantic thriller about a young woman obsessed with romance novels. Almost Paradise was produced in Hollywood in the mid-1980's and starred Feliece Sampler, then a major star of Days of Our Lives.
I think having written for television and the stage is especially helpful in my writing novels because once I'm into the story, my characters take over. They tell me, "I wouldn't say that!" or "I wouldn't do that!" The way I know I have a solid story is when it begins to write itself. Not to say there isn't a lot of work, but it 'flows' and the characters expose new sides of themselves and their stories to me as I am writing. I often cast particular 'actors' who I think fit the characters - visually. I put their pictures up above my computer along with the names of the characters. I also use pictures of the locations, or similar locations, to keep me grounded in what my characters are seeing around them.